#258: Jacare Cavalcanti Talks Alliance Gold at the 2012 Worlds, Rorion Gracie on the Gracie Diet, and Jiu-Jitsu in Russia

Romero Jacare Cavalanti Fabio Gurgel Alliance
“Jacare” Cavalcanti & Fabio Gurgel with the 1rst place team trophy at the 2008 BJJ Mundials.

The 2012 International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation held its annual World Championship last weekend and the results are no surprise: Alliance Jiu-Jitsu won the team gold medal! Alliance has worked hard to earn and maintain first place every year since 2007! We begin our show this week with a conversation with Alliance leader Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti, reviewing the specifics of their performance at the Mundials. Jacare acknowledges that they will someday lose the team trophy but that he and his other Alliance leaders like Fabio Gurgel and Alexandre Paiva are working hard to postpone that outcome as long as possible.

Gracie jiu jitsu
Rorion Gracie in the new Gracie Academy’s Beverly Hills location.

Our next conversation is with Helio Gracie‘s eldest son, Rorion. Many of us have heard of the Gracie Diet, but did you know that Rorion considers the diet even more important than jiu-jitsu? That’s right. According to Rorion:

If I had to choose between the jiu-jitsu that I know and my diet I would choose the diet over the jiu-jitsu. I don’t need to be the toughest guy in the world, and be able to choke everybody else, and then have a heart attack at 50. Who needs it, you know what I mean? Your health is absolutely the most important thing you have going for yourself.

Those are strong words indeed coming from the man who created the UFC!

This time of year there are still many in Southern California from countries across the globe who have come for last weekend’s IBJJF World Championships. Our final conversation is with a character encountered at open mat on Monday night, Daud Adaev, who hails from Moscow. We do not often hear about jiu-jitsu in Russia and Daud, the only brown belt in all of the country, was kind enough to tell us about the growth of jiu-jitsu in his country. As masters of chess and renowned grapplers, Russia is fertile territory for jiu-jitsu and we can expect some elite practitioners to grow there soon.

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Gracie jiu jitsu in Russia
The Russian doll and the red star in the background of this jiu-jitsu gi patch from Russia!


The FightWorks Podcast: Family, we are on the line now with a familiar voice to our audience on The FightWorks Podcast. We are talking with ” Jacare” Cavalcanti of Alliance. Jacare, how are you?

Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti: Oh, very well man, very happy because we just achieved another world championship, so I am very, very happy.

The FightWorks Podcast: I knew the answer to the question already (laughs). Jacare the last time Alliance did not win the Mundial was in 2007. Am I correct?

Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti: Yes, yes, yes. We won for the last five editions.

The FightWorks Podcast: You guys must be very proud.

Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti: Oh yes, we work very hard. We have high expectations when we go to the Mundials because that’s our main focus. Of course, we focus on the other tournaments but the Mundial is the jewel of the crown, and it’s when everybody prepares very well. We try to have our best guys ready to compete and thank God, we did it again. We won with a good margin of points from the second place.

The FightWorks Podcast: I think you guys had 97 points and the second place was Gracie Barra with 66 points.

Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti: Yes, well it was a little closer this year. Of course Gracie Barra came with their main guys. They are doing a very good job and I know Carlos is not happy to be in second place. They won the European this year. They have been really, really trying to get back on top.

The FightWorks Podcast: I think the last time you guys lost was in 2007 to Gracie Barra, as you said. Last year Gracie Barra didn’t even get a trophy in the team standings so for them to be second place this year is a big improvement.

Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti: Yeah, it’s a big improvement. I know they have all the main instructors in California, and they did a camp over there just like we do all over. I think they did a good job. I’m always happy to see other teams like Nova Uniao back on their roots again. They won the Brazilian Championship this year and they have a lot of people competing at the Mundials. Also, the other young teams: CheckMat did a pretty good job. You know, Buchecha and all those guys did very well. Atos did a pretty good job for a small team. These teams I think are improving. It’s one more reason for us to work even harder to maintain our position as number one.

The FightWorks Podcast: There are many special athletes and teams out there right now and I do want to talk a little bit more about them in a moment. From Alliance this year, you guys have so many big names and stars. Is there anybody in particular, anybody’s performance that especially impressed you this year?

Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti: Well I think all the guys competed really, really well. In the black belt, the division that everybody pays most attention, I think Malfacine fought brilliantly. He had a wonderful tournament and won for the fifth time. I think Cobrinha fought brilliantly too. I think last year he lost to Rafa Mendes and he lost bad because he got submitted. But he was able to reinvent himself, train hard, to study Rafa Mendes a little bit more. Of course he fought a very tactical match and if it was not for the warning he had in the beginning for pulling guard without touching the gi, he would have won. It proves that he belongs there. It’s not like there are monsters: Rafa is a brilliant competitor but I think Cobrinha’s on the same level. There is no doubt. Lucas Lepri fought very well. He lost by one advantage to Leandro Lo, who obviously is a very, very good competitor. Also Bernardo [Faria] fought a very good tournament. Leo Nogueira fought exceptionally well, and [in] losing to Buchecha in the last fifteen seconds he made a little mistake because we told him to just be very careful with the takedowns. It was the only way Buchecha could have won. But Buchecha was shining, and he really deserved to win. Nothing wrong about that. But I think Leonardo fought brilliantly. He fought very well. I think in general our guys fought very well. All the divisions they fought well. In general I am very, very happy with the performance of all our guys.

The FightWorks Podcast: You mentioned some competitors from other teams. From the outside, as a spectator, people have been commenting that one of the themes of this year was new faces. It feels like there’s a lot more tougher people who we don’t know much about.

Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti: Yes absolutely. Jiu-jitsu is always renovating. I think we had very good competitors in different belts and I think more and more every year we are going to have surprises. Of course, the veterans fought very well. I was very impressed with Xande Ribeiro’s performance. He fought brilliantly. Pe de Pano was phenomenal. His match against Buchecha was like one of the best matches I ever saw. Not to mention other performances from the ladies, all the performances from lower belts like brown belts, and purple belts. Even in blue belts I saw some good matches. I think it was a very good tournament. I just think that the novice divisions shouldn’t be in the same tournament of the World Championship. I think they should have that on a different day because it makes the tournament just too long. I think they could maybe cut the white belts from competing at the same tournament, and just have the blue belts and up competing at the Mundial. All in all I was very happy with the IBJJF improving the tournament. The podium now that they have in front of everybody was an improvement. The decoration of the tournament was an improvement. The refs dressing up on Sunday was an improvement and I think little by little we’re going to get our sport on top of the world.

The FightWorks Podcast: As we mentioned, it’s been a very long time since Alliance was really threatened from winning the first place. 2007 was the last time you did not win. Do you guys ever worry that you’re going to lose any time soon? Because at some point that’s the question: “Who can beat Alliance?”, and for the last several years [the answer] is nobody.

Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti: Well that’s a good question. And that’s a good challenge. It’s good to have that type of pressure on top of us. And you could see across the whole tournament me, Fabio [Gurgel] and Alexandre [Paiva] working diligently to have our guys competing and trying to give them support. Whether they win or lose we are always there for them giving the support, and instructions. We work very hard. We work every day. We have instructors courses going on. We go all over the world teaching seminars. We are trying to organize. Now we have the Alliance Instructionals together with Marcelo Garcia as a tool for our guys and we have these open to everybody to learn because I think one day we’re going to lose. But of course this sport, it changes all the time. But we always try to do our best to maintain the hegemony to stay on top. Regardless of what is going to happen in the future, we’re always going to be a team that has very, very strong competitors, very well organized. At all of our schools we teach very well with a lot of passion and love. That’s what it is.

The FightWorks Podcast: It would seem like the team to win the gold medal for the adult division is not necessarily a group of tough guys because there is a lot of teams with tough guys and girls. But it’s an indicator of an organization.

Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti: Yes, absolutely, it’s an indicator of organization, it’s an indicator of hard work. We work all year. As soon as the tournament was over I was already on the mats the next day teaching my guys and analyzing some of the guys’ performance, encouraging the guys that didn’t do so well to train harder. And I don’t only pay attention to the competitors. I pay attention to all the other guys that train at the school. We try to help the kids, I’m teaching the small kids there three times a week now. I am teaching the fundamentals program when I have a chance to get with the other instructors. It’s a lot of love, man, it’s a lot of work, and I think me, Fabio Gurgel, and Alexandre share the same passion for the sport since we started to build the Jacare school in Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro.

The FightWorks Podcast: Excellent. I don’t think there’s too much more to say, Jacare. It’s probable that this time next year we’re going to have a similar conversation.

Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti: Oh yes, I hope so. And I hope you’re going to ask me what the secret to winning again was! That’s what I’m going to be praying for. I’ll be working hard all year in 2012 and 2013 in order to go back to California and step on top of the podium again.

The FightWorks Podcast: Well win or lose we look forward to seeing all your guys and girls on the mats again. It’s always a great time for everybody involved, so thank you, Jacare.

Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti: Thank you very much again for the opportunity, for the wonderful work that you guys do helping the sport, and helping all the jiu-jitsu competitors in general. It’s a pleasure always to talk with you Caleb.

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